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TRANSLATIONS OF MISHKAT AL-MASABIH
Mishkat al-Masabih, within a short period of
time, gained the acceptance of the scholars and this was a
contributing factor for its popularity. The extent of its
popularity and value can be estimated by the large number of
commentaries and translations that have appeared in due course
in various languages. Important commentaries and translations
of Mishkat al-Masabih are discussed in this chapter.
Al-Kashif 'an Haqa'iq al-Sunan,
written by Sharf al-Din al-Husayn ibn Muhammad al-Tibi (d.
743/1342), was the very first commentary on Mishkat
al-Masabih. Al-Tibi was well-versed in Tafsir (Commentary on
the Qur'an), Arabic grammar and linguistics. He was equally
recognised as an authority on the science of influencing
juridical principles from the Hadith. Interestingly, he was
the teacher of al-Tabrizi, the compiler of the Mishkat. This
was indeed a matter of unique honour for the student,
al-Tabrizi, that the teacher wrote a commentary on the
student's work. Al-Tibi may have undertaken to write this
commentary in view of the fact that the Mishkat is a complete
compilation of Ahadith, covering practically all aspects of
the teachings of Islam. In his commentary, al-Tibi explained
the difficult words, elucidated upon the grammatical structure
of the Hadith and provided details of the rules of rhetorics
as applicable to the Hadith.
Furthermore, he interpreted the Ahadith of
the Mishkat in detail, and also explained the salient
juridical deductions based on these Ahadith. He relied, in his
explanation, as he himself points out, on the work of the
renown Shafi'i scholar 'Allamah Abu Zakariya Yahya al-Nawaw-i
(d.676/1277) entitled al-Minhaj 'ala Sharh Muslim which is a
commentary on Sahih Muslim.
Al-Kashif 'an Haqaa'iq al-Sunan is not
available in print but it seems that Mulla 'Ali al-Qari (d.
1014/1605) had access to the manuscript since he made
references to it in his famous Mirqat al-Mafatih. Copies of
the handwritten manuscripts of this commentary are available
in Pir Jhandu Muhibb Allah Shah Library in Sind, Pakistan and
in the University of the Punjab Library, Lahore, Pakistan.
'Allamah Yusuf Binnuri (d. 1977), the then Rector of Madrasah
al-'Arabiyyah al-Islamiyyah, Newtown, Karachi, Pakistan, had
in his possession a leather-bound copy of the manuscript on
which were the signatures of some great Afghan scholars.
Muslim scholars used to sign on the manuscripts of other
scholars as a token of tabarruk and historicity (for obtaining
Minhaj al-Mishkat was written by 'Abd
al-'Aziz al-Abhari (d. 843/1439). Nothing much is known about
al-Abhari's life. His commnetary on the Mishkat is brief. In
it, al-Abhari explained the unfamiliar words used in the
Ahadith that are to be found in the Mishkat.
Hashiyat al-Mishkat was written by 'Allamah
'Ali ibn Muhammad al-Jurjani (d. 843/1413). Al-Jurjani was
called al-Sayyid al-Sharif and was born in Taju, near
Astarabadh, present-day Iran, in 740/1339. He studied in
Herat, present-day Iran, and Egypt and taught in Shiraz where
he finally passed away. His commentary was also a brief one. A
copy of this commentary in manuscript form has survived and is
being available in the University of the Punjab Library,
Mirqat al-Mafatih by 'Ali ibn Sultan Muhammad
al-Qari (d.1014/1605) is the most comprehensive and excellent
Arabic commentary on Mishkat al-Masabih. He came to be
popularly known as Mulla 'Ali al-Qari and belonged to the
Hanafi School. He was born in Herat, Iran, where he received
his basic Islamic education. Thereafter, he travelled to
Makkah al-Mukarramah, Saudi Arabia, and studied under the
celebrated scholar Shaykh Ahmad ibn Hajar Haythami Makki.
Mulla 'Ali al-Qari eventually decided to remain in Makkah
al-Mukarramah where he taught, died and was laid to rest. It
ought to be noted here that his commentary was the first one
to have been written by a Hanafi scholar. In this commentary,
the author touches upon the authenticity of the Ahadith based
upon the opinions of the early Hadith scholars. He also points
out that since al-Tabrizi was a Shafi'i scholar he had
restricted himself to include only those Ahadith which were
important and relevant to legal deductions and teachings
according to the the Shafi'i School.
In this commentary, al-Qari refutes the
Shafi'i juridical opinions and puts forth the Hanafi opinions.
In certain instances he questions whether the Ahadith were of
weak (Da'if) ranking or alternatively he gives his reasons as
to why a particular Hadith cannot be accepted to be a source
for a specific Shafi'i ruling. Thus, he added in his
commentary such Ahadith from which Hanafi legal deductions are
Mirqat al-Mafatih was published in Cairo for
the first time in five volumes in 1309/1891 with the text of
Mishkat al-Masabih in the margin. A beautiful edition of the
same has recently been published in eleven volumes in Multan,
Pakistan, but unfortunately the year of its publication has
not been mentioned.
Al-Ta'liq al-Sabih 'ala Mishkat al-Masabih of
Mawlana Muhammad Idris Kandihlwi (1394/1974). Mawlana
Kandihlwi was born in 1312/1894 in Kandihla, India, which is a
village near Delhi. At the age of 11 he memorized the Qur'an.
He studied Islamic Sciences at the renown Islamic institution,
Mazahir al-Ulum, in Saharanpur, India. He specialised in
Hadith under the renown scholar 'Allamah Anwar Shah Kashmir.
Mawlana Kandihlwi taught at the Dar al-'Uloom, Deoband, and
finally migrated to Pakistan in 1949 where he was finally laid
to rest. His work happens to be the most recent commentary on
Mishkat al-Masabih. This commentary is in effect an abridged
version of Mirqat al-Mafatih. Mawlana Kandihlwi did not manage
to complete his commentary. Thus, his equally well-known son,
Mawlana Muhammad Malik completed the work and published it in
five volumes in Lahore, Pakistan.
Lamahat al-Tanqih was written by Shaykh 'Abd
al-Haq Sayf al-Din al-Dihlawi (d. 1052/1642) and is a short
Arabic commentary on al-Tabrizi's Mishkat al-Masabih. 'Abd
al-Haq al-Dihlawi was born in India and completed his studies
of the Islamic Sciences in Delhi. Thereafter, he travelled to
Makkah al-Mukarramah, Saudi Arabia, and specialised in Hadith
under Mulla 'Ali al-Qari and other notable scholars. He was a
prolific writer and wrote on a wide variety of subjects. He
passed away in 1052/1642 at the age of 94 and is buried in
Delhi. A manuscript of his Lamahat al-Tanqih is found in
al-Asafiyah Government Library, Hyderabad Deccan, India.
Zujajat al-Masabih. Its author Abu al-Hasanat
al-Sayyid 'Abd Allah ibn Mawlana al-Sayyid Muzaffar Husayn
al-Hydarabadi al-Hanafi (d. 1384/1964) wrote Zujajat
al-Masabih on the pattern of Mishkat al- Masabih. He attained
his religious education in Hyderabad Deccan, India, under
prominent scholars. He was a prolific writer and wrote on a
variety of subjects. He passed away in Hyderabad, India, at
the age of 92.
Abu al-Hasanat undertook writing his
commentary on the Mishkat entitled Zujajah al-Masabih while
visiting Turkey and Afghanistan. Since the majority of the
Muslim population in these two countries follow the Hanafi
School of Islamic Jurisprudence, his commentary is based upon
the Hanafi juridical opinions. Some salient features of his
commentary are as follows: firstly, he has included at the
beginning of every chapter relevant verses of the Qur'an
pertaining to the topics discussed in the chapters; secondly,
since Al-Tabrizi, the author of the Mishkat, had included only
such Ahadith which have a Shafi'i bias, he, on the other hand,
replaced these Ahadith with others that are in conformity with
the Hanafi rulings; thirdly, unlike the Mishkat he grouped all
the Ahadith which deal with juridical matters under relevant
headings. This commentary has been translated into Urdu by a
group of scholars and entitled as Nur al-Masabih.
Farsi Translation and
Ashi'at al-lama'at of Shaykh 'Abd
al-Haq Sayf al-Din al-Dihlawi represents the first attempt at
translating Mishkat al-Masabih into Farsi' (the Persian
language). It also incorporates a full commentary on the same.
It was published for the first time in 1277/1860 in Lucknow,
India and another edition of the same was later published in
1390/1970 in Lahore, Pakistan.
Urdu Translation and
Mazahir al-Haq of Muhammad Qutb
al-Din Khan Dihlawi (d. 1289/1872) is in five volumes and is
considered to be the most comprehensive commentary on Mishkat
al-Masabih written in the Urdu language. The author was born
in 1219/1804 in Delhi, India, and began his studies under the
learned scholar Shah Muhammad Ishaq of Delhi. He then
travelled to Saudi Arabia, where he studied under prominent
scholars in Makkah al Mukarramah and al-Madinah al-Munawwarah.
He passed away in Makkah al Mukarramah. In his commentary on
the Mishkat he quotes extensively from the other commentators.
Though it is an excellent translation and commentary, it does
not appeal to the laymen because of the fact that the style
and language are too high-flown. The translation contains
Arabic and Persian words and constructions which make the
language highly Arabicised and Persianised, making it
difficult to follow.
Tarjamat al-Mishkat is purely an Urdu
translation of Mishkat al-Masabih. It is the work of Mawlana
Karamat 'Ali Jawnpuri (d. 1290/1873). Karamat 'Ali was born in
Jawnpur, India, but the year of his birth is uncertain. He
studied Islamic Theology and other Islamic Sciences under Shah
'Abd al-'Aziz Muhaddith al-Dihlawi (d. 1239/1824). He was a
disciple of Sayyid Ahmad Shahid of Breyli (d. 1246/1831),
India. He was a trained qari (i.e. reciter of the Qur'an) and
an expert calligraphist. He is buried in Rangpur, India. All
his literary works have been written in the Urdu language.
English Translations and
It is appropriate to mention
here that most of the relevant informations on the English
translations and commentaries on Mishkat al-Masabih have been
taken from Dr. James Robson's Mishkat al-Masabih - English
Translation with Explanatory Notes. Dr. Robson was an Irish
clergyman and was Professor of Arabic at the University of
The first English translation of Mishkat
al-Masabih was done by A N Matthews in two volumes. His
translation was printed in Calcutta, India, in 1809. Some of
the shortcomings of this translation are as follows: Firstly,
a substantial number of Ahadith have been left out and
therefore not translated. No reason has been given as to why
this was done. Secondly, there are wrong translations of the
Arabic texts. Thirdly, at certain places the commentaries on
the Ahadith are given in the midst of their translations, thus
causing much confusion between the translation of the text and
There were some scholars, for example A.A.K.
Muhammad, who attempted to translate into English only
selected portions of Mishkat al-Masabih. His work entitled
The Sayings of Hazrat Muhammad was published in
Calcutta, India in 1918. Selections of texts is quite
arbitrary and no explanation is given for his selection of the
Another English translation of selections
from Mishkat al-Masabih is that of W. Goldsack entitled
Selections from Muhammadan Traditions. It was published
in Madras, India in 1923. It has not been possible to
establish as to why he chose to translate certain selections
from the Mishkat.
The celebrated translation and commentary of
Moulana Fazlul Karim entitled Al-Hadis was published for the
first time in Calcutta, India in 1939 and includes the Arabic
text as well. While the author calls it a translation of
Mishkat al-Masabih, it is evident that he has rearranged the
order of the Ahdith and added some Ahadith on his own
initiative and omitted some from the original text. It is, in
effect, a new work based on Mishkat al-Masabih.
In view of the previous shortcomings that
existed in the abovementioned English translations, Professor
James Robson felt that there was a need "to produce a
translation in natural English". He undertook the translate
the Mishkat. His translation runs into five volumes and is
entitled Mishkat al-Masabih - English Translation with
Explanatory Notes. It was published in Lahore, Pakistan in
1963. Its language is lucid and the modern system of
transliteration has been employed. In his commentary on the
Ahadith that are to be found in the Mishkat he has
incorporated brief explanations of certain Ahaadith based on
the explanations found in Mirqat al-Mafatih and al-Ta'liq
al-Sabih 'ala Mishkat al-Masabih.
Professor Robson himself points out that, in
his work, he did not discuss the questions of authenticity of
the Ahadith, nor did he elaborate upon the salient meanings of
the Ahadith. Furthermore, he himself admits that the "notes
(in his translation) mainly deal with explanations of some
Arabic words, place names, incidents to which reference is
made, and the references to the surahs and verses of the
Qur'an which are quoted."
'Abdul Hameed Siddiqui translated and
annotated the Mishkat and named his work Mishkat al-Masabih.
In 1976 Islamic Publications Ltd., Lahore, Pakistan, published
it in two volumes. In its introduction, 'Abdul Hameed Siddiqui
states that he encountered certain difficulties in translating
the Mishkat into English but nevertheless has "endeavoured to
convey somehow or the other the meanings of the words of
Ahaadith to the English-knowing readers. The value of
translation lies in the fact that the Arabic text of the
Ahaadith have been retained. While he does explain, in some
instances the meanings of certain Ahaadith, a need still
exists for a more comprehensive English translation and
commentary on Mishkat al-Masabih.
The author of Mazahir al-Haq,
Muhammad Qutb al-Din Khan cites al-Masdbih. Diblaw es numerous
other commentaries on Mishkd The writer of this thesis has not
been able to have access to any one of them but their copies,
either in old print or manuscript forms, should be available
in India and Pakistan. Thus, only their titles and the names
of their authors are listed in what follows:
Sharh al-Mishkat of Abu al-Hasan 'Ali
Muhammad 'Ilm al-Din Bukhari (d.841/1438).
Hashiyah al-Mishkat of Shaykh Muhammad Sa'id
ibn Mujaddid Alf al-Thaani (d.1070/1658).
Hidayat al-Ruwat ila Takhrij al-Masabih wa
al-Mishkat of Abu al-Fadl Ahmad ibn 'Ali ibn Hajar
Mir'at al-Mafatih of Mawlana 'Ubayd Allah
Aziqat al Najat Sharh al-Mishkat of Shaykh
'Abd al-Nabi 'Imad al-Din Muhammad Shatari.
Zinat al-Nuqat fi Sharh al-Mishkat of
Muhammad Abu al-Majdi Mahbub 'Alam Ahmad 'Abadi.